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Setting a PB for the Canberra Half Marathon 2014: a runner's account

April 16, 2014
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When preparing for a race, it is usually recommended that you have a steady training plan – with lots of rest and hydration in the few days before hand. And, on race day, the seasoned runners will always remind you that you shouldn't go out too fast.Well, for this latest race, I failed on all three counts. My evening before the race was spent at a friends housewarming party – where champagne was in good supply, as was yummy desserts. And although I was running regularly – I can’t say I had any “plan” in place – well certainly not one that had more than one long run before race day.But somehow, just somehow, I came out of the other side of the Canberra half marathon with a new PB.I’ve done this event (or its predecessor ?) twice before…back in 2010 and 2011. A lot has changed since then…..and not just for me.The event now has a new start / finish area, and an awesome one-lap course. It is also now part of the Australian Running Festival – and I must say the organisation was flawless. We started on time, the communication was clear and the road closures were seamless.Race morning – was like most others. After a restless night’s sleep (I think I had a few nerves!), I was up bright and early and itching to get running. It was a beautifully clear Canberra morning, which turned into an even more beautiful day. There was a slight chill in the air, but one that disappeared as soon as the first km was run.I seeded myself somewhere between the 1:40 and 1:50 pacers – slightly amused at my eagerness – but still hopeful that I could pull off a good time. My ‘open’ aim was under 2 hours, but I secretly wished to beat my previous PB of 1:56 that I set at this same event back in 2010!When the gun went off, I ran my little heart out. Too quickly, by all accounts, when I realised I had completed my first kilometer in 4:52, a pace that is waaaaaay quicker than the comfortable 5:30 I normally run. But it felt good, for now, and the atmosphere of all the like-minded runners on the course – saw me keep up a 4:55 pace for the first half of the race.I was grateful when I passed the 11km flag, knowing that we were now into the second half of the course. And, surprisingly, I found myself making ground and keeping pace on the uphill sections (maybe this was due to all the hills I normally run around home?)However, no amount of positive talk could overcome the reality that everything was starting to hurt. My legs, my feet…. sure-fire casualties of keeping up a quicker pace than normal.I popped my headphones in around this time, thankful for the distraction of music.12ks, 13ks, 14ks, 15ks….and I could feel my pace slipping. Not a huge amount…but certainly slipping.In previous races, I’ve always felt a surge of energy when I reach the 18-19k mark. But in this instance, I was spent. And starting to focus on how much my legs hurt, and how much I wanted to be done. I was briefly energised when I saw the 20k mark, and even then, the last 1.1km was rough.But I looked down at my watch and saw that a 1:4-something time was possible – and that certainly carried me over the finish line.Lessons learned:a. Training is key, but anything is possible!b. Running race = sore. Both during the race and certainly afterwards.c. Running fast + long = an insatiable hunger for the days thereafter – which I realised too late was probably more likely to have been dehydration. Oh well – can’t say I’ve minded the extra indulgence these last few days!d. I really love the half marathon distance – for racing. And I really just enjoy running!e. I’m not sure that I’ll ever beat this PB – but it’s nice to have gone sub 1:50 just this once.This article originally appeared on It has been edited and redistributed with the Author's permission.